What was your first experience/job in OST? What impact did this have on you?
My first experience in the OST was working with youth around fitness. I trained children from the ages of 3 to 18. It was very rewarding to work as the children loved what we did. The younger children gained insight into fitness at an early age while the older ones refined their fitness and learned more about the importance of warming up, stretching, and recovery.
What are you doing now? Tell me about the team you work with.
As of now, I am currently the instructional support coach for the Sims-Fayola EAYD program. My role is to provide job-embedded professional learning to our Empowerment Coaches to enhance classroom instructional practices and raise the level of student social-emotional skills growth, positive racial identity, and mental/behavioral wellness. In addition, we partner with Vive Fitness where we have an afterschool program at Stedman Elementary. We work with young men of color on fitness and their social and emotional needs.
What was your journey getting to where you are now?
My journey started at Luther College with an Adaptive PE course. I worked with students with special needs. The bonds that were built over a semester ignited my work with youth. It was very rewarding to work with students who had a markedly different social background than I was accustomed to, and it was an immensely gratifying experience. Upon completing my college education, I gained diverse work experience in the education sector, serving as a paraprofessional, behavior specialist, classroom specialist, and mathematics instructor across two distinct schools. I then joined the Sims-Fayola Foundation to become more involved in the social and emotional learning of young boys of color and the growth of educators.
What is the value of working in this field? What excites you most?
Working in out-of-school programs offers several benefits. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to work with students in a non-traditional learning environment that complements their in-school education. Such programs offer unique learning experiences and can help to improve students’ academic, social, and emotional development. Additionally, working in out-of-school programs allows educators to form strong relationships with students and their families, which can be rewarding both personally and professionally. The part I find the most exciting about working in out-of-school programs is the ability to experiment with innovative teaching approaches and to engage students in experiential learning activities that they may not have access to in a traditional classroom setting. Furthermore, I find that working in out-of-school programs allows me to have a more significant impact on the lives of students outside of academics by providing mentorship and guidance.
When not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I play recreational basketball, Off-roading, camp, read books, and spend time with my family.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself, your experiences in OST, or the OST field?
I would like to inspire others to continue or join this work. Be intentional, as this work is important to the growth and development of the youth. If you are in this work, we appreciate your hard work and it does not go unnoticed. You are planting seeds for the future.